Consumers more confident than expected in May

High gas and food prices, combined with concern over inflation, had created lower levels of confidence in March and April. 

Gas prices have dropped to an average of $3.81 a gallon from a high of about $4 earlier in the month, lifting confidence. 

That decrease in prices isn't reflected in another set of figures released Friday by the Commerce Department, because its numbers run behind by a month. 

Personal income and spending rose 0.4 percent in April, although those high prices soaked up most of consumers' extra cash.